By Andy Hirst

It looks highly likely Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival will go ahead next year – for the first time since 2017.

Organisers had set themselves an ambitious target to raise £28,870 by Friday July 22 and they are near the total … but people are urged to keep on giving to get them over the line.

Hundreds of people and several Slaithwaite businesses have rallied behind the cause and organisers have been promised a good-sized arts grant but can’t revealed more until they receive the donation.

Volunteer fundraiser Kath Shackleton said around £1,500 is due in from fundraising events and the Colne Valley ward councillors have promised to help out with some money too.

“We are certainly edging near the total and it’s now looking highly likely the moonraking festival will go ahead next year,” said Kath. “But we still need those final contributions. Three or four very generous people have donated £100 and we have had a lot of small contributions from people keen to see the festival on Slaithwaite’s streets once more.”

Hundreds of people take part in the festival which attracts thousands of visitors into the village.

The festival is due to go ahead next February half-term. It originates from a story about a band of smugglers who hid barrels of rum in the canal to avoid paying tax. When caught fishing a barrel out of the water by the local militia they claimed to be trying to rake the moon out of the canal as it was reflected in the water.

The soldiers simply thought they were daft and left them to it. During the modern Moonraking Festival a moon lantern is floated on a raft, fished out and then carried around the village.

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival

Slaithwaite businesses and groups that have helped recently include re: hair and beauty, Northern Sole café, Anello pizza restaurant and Slaithwaite Community Association. Om Is Where The Heart Is café and bar has a special moonraker dish on the menu and they donate £1 for each one sold.

Pennies have counted too with the somewhat tongue-in-cheek Lunar Levy. The Moonrakers were trying to avoid tax and there are levy collection boxes in several Slaithwaite businesses and the idea is that for every pound people spend they have to pay a 1p lunar levy which goes straight into the collection tin.

Festival organiser Gill Bond said: “The event brings the community together at a dark time of year for an affirming celebration of light, warmth and creative spirit. The funds we raise will buy quality materials, expert professional help, training for volunteers and the very best health and safety for everyone taking part.”

Professional artists create the main lanterns and the parade features both local groups and professional musicians and street performers.

Next year’s event will feature community lantern making workshops for families from Monday, February 13 to Friday, February 17 followed by the festival parade on Saturday, February 18 with outdoor entertainment including a spectacular firework finale with live music.

The festival, a registered charity, hasn’t taken place since 2017 due to funding cuts and the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is still time for groups and people to come up with inventive ideas to raise funds and these include:

  • Restaurants, bars and shops featuring a special moonraking product and donating the proceeds to help the festival.
  • Schools and businesses holding fancy dress, non-uniform days, bake sales or sponsored events.
  • Makers and craftspeople producing a moonraking inspired item.
  • Sports and activity groups organising a fun sponsored event, raffle or challenge.

The festival is offering prizes for people who come up with the most inventive fundraising ideas and for those who raise the most cash. The festival will share photos of any groups taking part.

To see how big the festival is watch this quick video from 2017

If you’re planning a fundraiser please let the festival know by emailing

To donate go to

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.